• The Associated Press

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The top automakers reported Wednesday a sharp plunge in production for January, the latest evidence of how severely the mainstay auto industry is being hit by the global slowdown.

Toyota Motor Corp. said its worldwide production slid 39.1 percent from a year earlier to 487,984 vehicles in January.

Its domestic production was down 34.6 percent, while overseas output dived 44.2 percent.

Worldwide vehicle production at Honda Motor Co. fell 33.5 percent in January to 226,551 vehicles. It was the third straight month in which its global production fell from a year earlier.

The fall was particularly severe in the U.S., where it dropped 50.1 percent from a year earlier to 47,246 vehicles.

Honda’s production in Europe slid 50.8 percent to 11,514 vehicles, and its production in Japan was down 23 percent to 77,224 vehicles.

Nissan Motor Co.’s global production in January plunged 54 percent to 145,286 vehicles, it said. Production in the U.S. dived a dramatic 70.7 percent to 18,741 vehicles.

Domestic production sank 59 percent, while its overall overseas production decreased 51.2 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said its global production totaled 53,339 in January, down 53.9 percent and marking the 11th straight month of year-on-year decrease.

Suzuki to idle lines

Kyodo News

Suzuki Motor Corp. said Wednesday it will suspend almost all of its operations at its six car and motorcycle plants in Japan for four to 10 days in March, except for production of domestic cars.

The halt will affect about 4,000 workers, or roughly half of Suzuki’s factory hands in Japan. Production of cars for sale in Japan will not be affected, the Shizuoka Prefecture-based automaker said.

The workers will be paid a reduced salary for three days, the company added.

Production of parts for overseas use at the Kosai plant in Shizuoka will be suspended for six days, while car lines at the Sagara plant will be halted for 10 days. At the Iwata plant, also in Shizuoka, production of the Escudo and Jimny four-wheel-drive vehicles will stop for an undisclosed period.

Workers engaged in motorcycle production at the Toyokawa plant in Aichi Prefecture and the Takatsuka and Osuka plants in Shizuoka will also be asked to temporarily lay down their tools.

Suzuki is also planning to idle 6,000 white-collar workers for three days.

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